With just 12 second remaining in the contest, freshman guard Rico Tate (Memphis, TN) pushed the ball up the far side of the court after the Santa Ana College Dons hit a floater in the paint to go up by one. Tate calmly looks to push the ball further up the court with seconds ticking off of the clock and finds sophomore guard Andre Wilson (Colton, CA) open on the wing and dishes him the rock. Wilson catches the ball in stride just outside the three-point line and dribbles past a defender and charges for the block. He avoids contact with another defender, gathers his dribble, and lofts the ball up on the run.
For what seemed to be an eternity, the ball floated in the air, rattled on the rim, and was hugged by the net for the game-winning shot and a crucial Orange Empire Conference (OEC) victory on Friday night. The final three minutes tell the tale of a game that went down to the wire.
The Tigers were down by four points with just under three minutes remaining after succumbing to a small scoring drought. However, a clutch bucket from sophomore forward Demetrius Murray (Devore, CA) put them right back within two points of the lead.
It then became a battle against the free throw line for the following two possessions after the Dons took back a two-point lead with under two minutes remaining. Sophomore guard Brae Ivey (Huntington Beach, CA) stepped to the line on consecutive possession and drilled two sets of free throws to bring the contest to 54-all.
However, Ivey followed his clutch fourth-consecutive free throw with his fifth foul of the game to send him to the pine for the remainder of the contest. It was time for someone else to step up.
Freshman center Jordan Robinson (Riverside, CA) did just that by tipping in a crucial put back off of his own miss just seconds after the Dons regained the lead to put the score back to 56-all.
Riverside worked their way to the free throw line once again with the game on the line – this time in the form of Tate. After missing the first free throw, Tate buried the second. Unfortunately, the Dons hit a floater to gain the lead back with just 12 seconds on the clock.
That is when Wilson came up clutch to hit the game-winning layup en route to the win.
Robinson led with 16 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double. Ivey backed him with 11, while Wilson added 10.
It was a crucial win for the Tigers as they leaped Santiago Canyon in the standings and are now fifth in conference.
Riverside (13-9, 4-4 OEC) will face off against Copper Mountain on Wednesday, February 7th at 7 p.m.